Frequently Asked Questions about Anthrax

To date, there has not been a serious bioterrorism threat in the Quad City Metropolitan Area. Officials advise citizens to remain alert.

Who should I call if I have questions about anthrax ?

Call the Scott County Health Department. Information is also available at

Who should I call if I receive a suspicious letter or package?

Your local police department

Who should I call if I believe I have been exposed to anthrax?

The Scott County Health Department and your physician

What should I keep in mind as I open my mail?

Here are some things to consider when deciding if a package or letter is suspicious?

  • No return address or restrictive markings
  • Possibly from foreign country or excessive postage Lopsided, uneven, rigid or bulky
  • Addressed to title only or incorrect title used
  • Badly typed or handwritten
  • Protruding wires
  • Misspelled words Strange odor
  • Oily, discolored, crystallization on wrapper
  • Excessive tape or string

What should I do if I receive a suspicious letter or package?

What will law enforcement do?

Local law enforcement personnel will decide if the threat is credible and take appropriate action.

What happens if there has been an exposure?

The Iowa Department of Public Health will contact Scott County Health Department for further follow-up.

Does my doctor know how to recognize anthrax?

All physicians in Scott County have been provided with information in order to identify the symptoms and signs of the different types of anthrax. If you are concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing, contact your doctor and he/she can evaluate you.

Should I take antibiotics to prevent getting anthrax?

If you have not been exposed, there is no need to take antibiotics in order to prevent anthrax. Antibiotics may have side effects, and the overuse of antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria.

Can a person get screened or tested for anthrax?

There is no test available that is useful to assess exposure to anthrax. If an exposure were to occur, public health officials will investigate and inform people whether they have been exposed and if they need antibiotics.

The blood tests or nasal swabs that you read or hear about are not useful to determine whether an individual should be treated with antibiotics. They are used only to determine the extent of exposure in a given situation.

There is a lot of talk about our food supply being targeted by terrorists. Is there anything that I can do to keep the food I am eating safe?

The following are steps to prevent food-borne illnesses, including gastrointestinal anthrax. These steps should be taken regardless of any bioterrorism threat. Precautions beyond these are not required.